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BWW Reviews: THE DONKEY SHOW is a Swinging Good Time at The Arsht Center

An infectious blend of Miami heat and Studio 54 spice, "The Donkey Show" brings the 70s alive by way of an over-the-top, rollicking disco extravaganza. The Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami has been redesigned into Club Oberon: a massive open space consisting mostly of inviting dance floor, selective VIP cabaret-style seating, a small stage near the "front" used sporadically by the cast, and high platforms surrounding the space that also house a DJ booth. Cleverly maneuvered boxes and set pieces are driven around the dance floor as supple-bodied aerialists appear from the sky, seemingly out of nowhere. A fantastical night out with the girls or the gays, this gender-bending piece of immersive theatre is just pure fun.

Originally helmed by the imaginative Diane Paulus and her husband Randy Weiner at the A.R.T. in Boston, the show has been tailored for Miami audiences by Allegra Libonati who has done an impressive job integrating party and show, improv and script. Focus is directed left, right, up and down with such sharpness and clarity that the audience never skips a beat or misses a moment of action. Although there is some semblance of a Shakespearean storyline buried in there somewhere, it hardly matters if we are even aware of the connection between these lovers swapping lovers here beneath the disco ball and the original characters in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Even the most traditional theatre-lovers can easily get swept away with both spectacle and nostalgia.

It must be noted that The Arsht Center has consistently proven how exceptional the talent is in South Florida by highlighting Miami-based actors, singers and dancers in their productions. "The Donkey Show" is a testament to the credibility of this diverse community. The fairies, a legion of dancer boys, live in Rosie Herrera's disco-inspired choreography and are, in most part, responsible for the energy traveling through the crowd. Stephanie Chisholm is a commanding Tytania in both stature and attitude, and her turn on silks is breathtaking. Plenty of dudes played by chicks resulted in humorous bouts of lust and jealousy, most significantly by Carolina Pozo and Leah Verier-Dunn.

If one question mark remains after the confetti has settled and the glitter washed off, it is the strength of the voices and sound design throughout the evening. Overpowering tracks seemed to drown-out the weaker singers or make us wonder if they were in-fact singing live. Either way, singing along is strongly encouraged and, of course, the party always goes on. Running through August 12th at The Adrienne Arsht Center, be sure to boogie down Miami-style at "The Donkey Show."

Photo credit: Justin Namon

The Donkey Show heats up Club Oberon

Stephanie Chisholm

Inger Hanna and Company

Katie Stirman

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